Iga Swiatek wins three-set duel against Aryna Sabalenka to take Madrid crown | Tennis

Iga Swiatek may still be in the early stages of her career, learning her craft and acquiring new tools while reaching her peak, but at the same time, she is making her mark on tennis history with incredible momentum. continuing. pace.

Swiatek, 22, has now won every important clay court event on the WTA Tour and defeated Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday night in an amazing battle of the highest quality between two of the world’s best players. , accomplished that feat. After 3 hours and 11 minutes in Madrid, Swiatek saved three match points and defeated Sabalenka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7) in one of the greatest matches in her history. I got it.

The victory marks the Polish athlete’s 20th title, three of which have come this year, and eight of which have come on clay. Enjoying her 100th week of the tournament in first place, she has conquered Roland Garros, Madrid, Rome and Stuttgart, her victories cementing her dominance on clay courts. I left behind.

In last year’s final between the top two players, Sabalenka defeated Swiatek in one of the best performances of her career. This time, after a nervous start, they were already at that level by the middle of the first set. Both players began serving with precision at critical moments, and both players were able to hit the ball freely. While the Belarusian was crushing the ball from both wings, his opponents desperately turned the defense over and attacked with their speed, strength and ability to spin and open up the court.

Iga Swiatek takes flight while battling the incredible power of Aryna Sabalenka. Photo: Bernat Almangue/AP

The first set was ultimately decided by Swiatek’s stunning return in the final game, but Sabalenka started the set even more determined to strike first, smashing the Polish’s second serve to get an early start. I grabbed the break. Swiatek continued to pull her back with her own perfect returns, but the world No. 2’s excellent serve kept her close. At 5-4, she put it all on the line and broke the set with a running forehand winner.

By the final set, both players were fighting for their lives, fully aware that doing their best wasn’t enough. First, Światek brought Sabalenka back from a 3-1 lead, and the Belarusian made an incredible hold from 30-0 to 4-4, hitting a second ace at 30-30. When she moved forward and created a match point on Swiatek’s serve at 6-5, the Pole didn’t hesitate to save both and force a tiebreak. On her first match point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, Sabalenka hit an ace.

It was an incredible back-and-forth match until the end, with Sabalenka hitting a long backhand for the championship point, ending the match with an incomprehensibly close margin of victory and ultimately relinquishing the title.

Another spectacular women’s match took place at the Estadio Manolo Santana, with players expressing their frustration over poor treatment at the tournament, including the players not being allowed to speak during last year’s women’s doubles final. I couldn’t help but think about my dissatisfaction. their trophy ceremony. That was clearly not far from Swiatek’s mind. “Who’s to say now that women’s tennis is boring?” she said.

How has the situation changed? Three of the men’s last four matches have been decided by retirement or bye, with the top three seeds Yannik Siner, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev all leaving Madrid with injuries, but it provided the most fun in the second week. It was a girl. . Prior to this match, Sabalenka had made an incredible comeback to defeat Elena Rybakina in a final set tie-break.

After all, these final days of the tournament highlight the dual importance of both groups of players, how well the men’s and women’s tours balance themselves in these combined events, especially the best skill and sky-high players. It served as a reminder of his performance. The top women continue to strengthen their rivalry and push each other to new heights.